Thursday, 17 October 2019

Questions (71)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire


71. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason for the apparent overpayments by his Department in purchasing land intended for new schools in Dublin, specifically the purchase of sites in Harold's Cross and Sandymount; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42543/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy is aware the Comptroller and Auditor General included a chapter in its recently published Report on the Accounts of the Public Services 2018 on the purchase of sites for school provision.  As part of its review the C&AG selected the acquisitions of Roslyn Park, Sandymount, Dublin 4; Harold’s Cross, Dublin 6W and Cathal Brugha Street/Marlborough Street, D1 for closer examination.

Having thoroughly examined the case for the acquisitions and the process attaching to those, the only recommendation of the C&AG for my Department was that it should review its parameters for the size of school sites and seek to intensify the development of properties in its ownership.  My Department had already commenced implementation of this approach independently of the C&AG report.

As outlined in that report the Roslyn Park and Harold’s Cross acquisitions formed part of a site identification exercise in South Dublin city which commenced in 2012 and following that process, both site options were acquired: being the only solutions for the delivery of critically required school accommodation in the region.

The former Harold’s Cross Greyhound Stadium was acquired under the terms of Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Circular 11/2015 Protocols for the Transfer and Sharing of State Property Assets, which includes the provision that the consideration be set by a binding independent valuation prepared by the Valuation Office.

The property at Roslyn Park had been advertised for sale and there was an extremely competitive market for the property in question.  My Department paid only what it had to in order to secure the only site which could deliver the required school accommodation. 

In summary, there is no question of overpayment by my Department for the properties in question and the purchase of these well-located sites is now enabling the planning and construction of four new schools that are meeting an identified requirement for school provision for circa 3000 students.